Mountain Landslide Destroys Section of Highway to Jackson, Wyo.

A landslide in the Teton mountains destroyed part of a highway that links Idaho to Jackson, Wyo., forcing the authorities to close the road indefinitely on Saturday just as the area was entering its summer tourism season.

No one was injured when a section of the Teton Pass “catastrophically failed,” the Wyoming Department of Transportation said in a statement on Saturday. The highway west of Jackson had been closed to traffic before the road gave way, and crews were working to build a detour around a section where a crack had appeared in the surface days earlier.

The department said it expected a long-term closure. Gov. Mark Gordon of Wyoming said in a separate statement that geologists and engineers would “develop a long-term solution to rebuild the roadway.”

Even a short closure would pose major logistical challenges for the area, in part because the road serves Jackson Hole, a major tourism hub in Teton County. Travel and tourism is Wyoming’s second-largest industry, according to the Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board, and the county took in about $1.7 billion in travel-related spending in 2022.

“We understand this highway is a lifeline for commuters, deliveries, medical care access and tourism, especially with limited alternatives and the summer season upon us,” Darin Westby, the director of the state’s Transportation Department, said in a separate statement.

The department’s “engineers, surveyors and geologists mobilized quickly to try to maintain highway viability as long as possible, but catastrophic failure could not be avoided,” Mr. Westby said.

The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce said on its website that travelers could still reach the Jackson area from the west by taking two other roads through the Snake River Canyon. But that detour adds more than an hour of driving time, the local news outlet WyoFile reported.

The section of Wyoming State Highway 22 that collapsed was initially closed earlier in the week after cracks appeared in the surface. It reopened after crews patched the cracks but was closed again after a separate mudslide a few miles away sent mud and debris spilling over the road, the Transportation Department said.

The department said in its statement on Saturday that its crews were still working to clear that mud and debris.

You may also like...